What do you think of when you hear the term, “boutique marketing agency?”
It’s a pretty high-falootin-sounding term. It sounds expensive…elite…snobbish even.
Au contraire. A boutique marketing agency may be just what you’re looking for in the way of a committed partner to growing your business without spending “beaucoup bucks.” (OK, enough with the French clichés.)
Businesses both large and small are turning to boutique firms to help them with highly creative, out-of-the-box approaches to marketing needs without spending an exorbitant amount of time and/or money for successful solutions.
In-House Marketing. Many corporations have brought marketing “in-house” because of budget concerns, thinking they’ll save money by “just doing it themselves.” When that happens, people are either transferred from within (from HR, administrative assistant positions, etc.), or are filled by candidates that have an entry-level skillset for the position. These in-house marketing employees may be extremely versed in your company’s brand and culture, but lacking in actual marketing and/or design expertise.
Corporations risk putting themselves in dangerous waters when this occurs. Consider that the individual transferred from HR tasked with heading up the marketing department is excited to make a mark without proper knowledge or experience to properly run the department. This puts the entire corporate brand at risk.
On the flip side, some companies think that by hiring their own in-house marketing team, they will gain (or retain) control over their marketing efforts. The problem with this approach is that once you add up each of these new employees’ salaries, and add benefits and additional overhead expenses, you are paying more annually for your internal marketing department than you ever would for an outside firm! And that doesn’t include the cost for continual training to keep these people on top of the newest marketing trends and technologies.
In most cases, the in-house marketing department, wherever they come from, is already overtaxed with designing proposal covers and multiple versions of internal newsletters and fact sheets to be able to deliver innovative, cutting-edge marketing pieces outside the realm of their comfort zone, on time and on-budget.
Big “Full-Service” Agency. A lot of larger companies have been misled by the thought, “we’re a large corporation, therefore we need a large marketing agency.” Full-service agencies are beneficial if you’re needing breadth of knowledge and don’t mind paying premium for it. Although the top-level execs and partners at the firm are very experienced, unfortunately, the folks who will actually be assigned to your account are anything but.
The charming, clever individual who sold you on their firm seems to disappear as soon as the ink is dry. Because big agencies have, oftentimes, too many clients at one time, promises are high and delivery is often disappointingly low. Accountability and knowledge of your company’s projects and needs are lacking, and inquiries into the status of any given project can get passed through the voicemail gauntlet, only to be left unanswered. (All of this for a premium price tag.)
Savvy companies that have marketing projects turn to a talented, experienced boutique agency who can either work independently, or partner with their marketing people, to come up with compelling messaging for those “out of the norm” marketing endeavors. Boutique agencies offer the expertise, flexibility and devoted team that Corporate Communications managers turn to time and again, when that all-important request comes from the C-Level for “marketing that will knock my socks off—and I need it next week.”
One-man Band. Before you attempt to design your new logo on a cocktail napkin, ask yourself this question: “If I needed an appendectomy, would I do it myself?” Hopefully, the answer is a resounding “No!” You know your business inside and out, but by trying to “DYI” your branding and marketing, you run the exceptionally high risk of failure because marketing is not where you excel.
The time and money saved by partnering with an experienced small marketing firm is worth its weight in gold when it comes to getting the results you need from your marketing efforts. I’ve heard many variations of the following excuses that entrepreneurs and small businesses use for not hiring an outside marketing firm:
I could never afford them
I know what I want
I know my business better than some outsider
I know a guy who has a nephew who’s taken a few marketing courses…
Unfortunately (after enormous amounts of time and money are spent), the majority of these scenarios end up badly, and more money and time needs to be spent with a reputable, experienced marketing firm to “undo” the damage.
Yes, as a small business owner, you eat, sleep and breathe your company. No one understands your business better than you. But seasoned marketing professionals understand the personas, target demographics, methods and marketing strategies that will lead customers to your business.
A boutique agency acts as a dedicated extension of your company, always conscious of your budgets, timeframes, and most importantly, applying a marketing strategy that fits your unique needs. The blend of expertise, resources and technology that come with that are the icing on your marketing budget cake.